At age 19, when most of the youngsters are still trying to figure out what career they want to pursue and how would they make it happen; Nikita Acharya didn’t only know what she wanted to do but she actually made it happen. The Co-Founder and CEO of one of the most successful e-commerce portals in Nepal, Urban Girl, is now a role model and an inspiring entrepreneur at age 23.
Urban Girl was founded by Nikita along with her friend Kiran Timsina. Starting out with a total investment of Rs. 20,000 (Rs. 10,000 each) and a Facebook page with just two people doing all the work; the company now conducts its services from a well-equipped office in Min Bhawan with around 20 employees. The company came up with a new venture called UG Cakes last year that is popular for delivering the custom-designed delicious cakes to its customers.
The most praiseworthy work that Nikita and her team have been doing is empowering the people who need such a platform the most. Urban Girl has been promoting and selling products that have been made by 2015 earthquake victims, differently-abled people and the marginalized groups of people. The company also focuses on empowering women and that is why 90% of the people working in it are females.
We recently talked to Nikita about herself, Urban Girl, entrepreneurship in Nepal and many other things. Excerpts.
Neo: Hello, Nikita. How have you been lately?
Nikita: I’m doing good, Neeraj. Thank you.
Neo: So, what keeps you busy these days?
Nikita: Reminds me of Rihanna’s latest hit: “Work work work work work”. Includes expansion of company, hiring the best people around, contributing to the society by empowering marginalized group women and going to the gym/zumba at the evening.
Neo: Please introduce yourself to our readers.
Nikita: I am a normal human being, just like you are, with a dream and pursuing it with whatever it takes. I dream of a better society where we all work together to build it.
Neo: Let’s talk about Urban Girl. How did you come up with the idea?
Nikita: I was doing my BBA 5th semester. At that time, the Nepalese consumer market was devoid of an online shopping portal. I realized that while the prevailing market condition was a problem for customers, it was an opportunity for me. Taking action, Kiran and I started to brainstorm ideas to combat this deficiency in the Nepalese market. Our initial vision was to make our online portal a preferred shopping center for our target customers.
Neo: What were the first challenges that you had to face?
Nikita: Online shopping was not mature in Nepal, and we wanted to establish a solid online shopping via Urban Girl. More than a payment system, overcoming the mindset that online shopping DOES NOT exist in Nepal was a real challenge.
Neo: Do those challenges still exist?
Nikita: Partially, yes! But I have witnessed the changing perception of our market segment gradually and I can see more girls willing to shop online. To maintain the trust, we provide the best service possible. We believe, if you give customers quality service, they will definitely provide you with quality orders.
Neo: What according to you are some of your major accomplishments in these three years so far?
Nikita: We started with around 300sq ft office space, 2 people who would handle everything, from taking orders to delivering the products and with just around 4/5 orders per day. As of now, we have shifted to a bigger space (around 2100sq ft) at prime location, with more than 20 employees, 1 factory where we bake cakes ourselves, and good quantities of orders everyday.
Neo: Are you satisfied with the progress you have made so far?
Nikita: If not, I would have quit to do something better already.
Neo: Is there anything that you wish you had done differently in this business?
Nikita: I have always dreamt of this community to move ahead instead of just me or my company. As we move ahead, we are now selling crafts made by socially deprived groups of Nepal. But I wish Urban Girl to be a platform for everyone who are in dire need to sell their crafts for a living. This would include victims of natural disasters and social violence, widowed women and other socially deprived women, and differently-abled people.
Neo: What are the future targets of your company?
Nikita: We want to empower more women by building more factories where they can use their skill, empower themselves, and live a more respected life in the society. We wish to do this all over Nepal, and perhaps outside Nepal as well.
Neo: A piece of advice you would like to give to the aspiring entrepreneurs.
Nikita: Don’t just dream it, chase it!
Neo: What do you think is the most important trait one must possess in order to be successful?
Nikita: Live freely, live for yourself. Know what you want and listen to what your heart says.
Neo: Anything you want to say to the well qualified youths who leave the country because they think there’s no scope here?
Nikita: Actually I don’t think people who see no scope here should even stay complaining about how Nepal is. If they think they can do better in other country, just go. It’s their life and their decisions. So, Goodbye. But Nepal is rising, and someday you will realize this as well. And when you do, please come back and help build a better society for future generation.
Neo: Name us one new Nepali company or startup that you have seen a lot of potential in.
Nikita: Actually there are more than one company. I can see youngsters coming forward to meet their dream. Every day I see at least one youngster who is committed to make their dream come true and most of them are promising.
Neo: At last, could you tell us that one success mantra that you think is the key to achieving your goals?
Nikita: I wish there was one. Sadly, there is no mantra and there can’t be. It’s just about your hard work, passion and commitment.
Neo: Thank you for your time, Nikita. We wish you all the best.
Nikita: Thank you!